Last week, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) hinted it would build a Chinese social network through acquisitions and alliances; today it confirmed to Reuters it has already acquired a stake in Tianya Club, one of China’s largest online forums. Google wouldn’t disclose the size of the stake to paidContent.org when asked. The deal appears linked to Wenda, a new Q&A community site that is a joint venture between the two in the mould of the retired Google Answers, which also resurfaced in Russia earlier this year named Otvety. Reuters cites Chinese reports of Wenda’s launch that put Google’s stake at anything between 10 and 60 percent; no official confirmation.
Tianya Club was launched in 1999 and has been a popular outlet for politicians to answer citizens’ question. While the Russian version of Answers was launched as a Google.ru brand back in June, Wenda plays down the Mountain View firm’s involvement. Google Blogoscoped suggests it’s easier for Google to operate the site as an alliance, rather than as a fully-fledged Google property as in Russia, because Tianya has an Internet Content Provider license (the piece of paper handed to sites after agreeing to comply with state rules). Indeed, Yahoo has previously used 3721.com’s ICP license, eBay has used Eachnet’s and Amazon has operated under Joyo’s. Google, however, has already won preliminary approval for its own ICP license. Until that is resolved, the separate branding buys Google some time, as well as some distance from further censorship controversy — Tianya was last week forced by state officials to remove a post about a collapsed bridge, AP reports.
- Baidu: Meanwhile, the copyright court case brought by 5fad.com, a litigious Chinese commercial music downloads site, against search engine Baidu, will be heard in October in Beijing. 5fad.com claims Baidu’s indexing of its website allows web users to download tracks without paying. Release.